Ukrainian schools have a tradition at the end of May called Останий Дзвоник (“ostany dzvonyk”), or “Last Bell,” which happens on the morning after the last day of classes. It’s an hour-long ceremony to honor everyone – but especially the graduating 11th-formers – and officially close school for the year.
All the pupils dress up and assemble in order around the school yard. Then out marches the Queen of Knowledge – this year one of my 11th-formers, Dana – followed by her “ladies,” six of my adorable 2nd-formers in white dresses. They lead the rest of the 11th Form, which lines up in the middle of the yard.
People – the priests, school director, town administration leaders – make short speeches.
Then it’s time for Dana to pass her crown to another pupil; usually it’s a rising 11th-former, but this year’s 10th form is not strong so they were skipped and Dana passed her crown to Nazar, one of my 9th-formers, who became King of Knowledge. He was dressed to fit the part, with four little princes in tow. I felt a little like I was in a fairy tale.
And finally, the last bell is rung by a 1st-former carried on the shoulders of an 11th-former. This reminded me a little of the “passing the banner” part of Harley (my high school) graduation.
But wait! The last waltz must be danced. Each 11th-former chooses a teacher/administrator for a short dance.
Lastly, each 11th-former releases a pigeon into the sky, to send off their school days. Beautiful.
After the ceremony, pupils give flowers to their favorite teachers. Yes, I got quite a few flowers. J They also go picture-happy, which I was excited about because I don’t have many pictures with my pupils. I was able to get some good ones today: